Technology gaps exist in nearly every local and state agency. Government technology often relies on legacy systems and outdated infrastructure. A need to prevent downtime leads to stop-gap measures that don’t solve the problem in the long term.
A technology audit and implementation roadmap enables organizations to see a path forward. Moreover, vendor partnerships help agencies identify gaps and solutions while keeping deployments on budget. Learn how to assess your situation, why it matters, and where to start.
Importance of Identifying Technology Gaps
Data sharing between departments is essential, as is public accessibility. Yet, ineffective tools or infrastructure hinders an agency’s ability to provide services and handle unforeseen issues. But you won’t know what problems exist until a crisis arises. By then, it’s too late.
Pinpointing technology gaps reveal potential matters affecting your citizens and workforce. Early detection helps prepare your state or local agency to upskill, reskill, or hire employees. A technology audit also shows how your organization can better serve constituents, from improving traffic flows to supporting digital payments.
Step-by-Step Process for Discovering Technology Gaps
State and local agencies use technology audits to understand current applications and infrastructure. A practical approach allows leaders to identify employees and citizen end users affected by technology gaps. From there, your agency should engage stakeholders to develop a shared vision and determine their roles.
With a list of your technologies, you can learn about the processes and systems each tech enables. Organizations then compare technology audit information to established policies and standards. Doing so lets them find ways to improve existing methods while exploring solutions for long-term impact.
Conduct a Technology Audit
A comprehensive technology audit can uncover high-priority concerns needing immediate attention and information for planning capital improvements. But the audit and subsequent technology analysis are time-consuming.
In many cases, state and local agencies prefer to work with a third-party technology vendor familiar with government technologies. Going this route enables your organization to complete an assessment quicker and with fewer disruptions.
The steps may vary, depending on your approach, but often include the following:
- Determine your goals: Consider high-level and department-level outcomes your evaluation will support. These should align with your overarching agency vision.
- Outline the project’s scope: Will you focus on foundational technologies, such as infrastructure, or evaluate all hardware, software, and systems?
- Define the documentation process: Decide who will perform the technology audit and how they will document their findings.
- Create a technology inventory list: Build a comprehensive list of all technologies used by your agency, including network devices, software, backup systems, and document management tools.
- Develop assessment checklists: Specify what the auditor looks at for each technology group. This should include licensing agreements, security information, and serial numbers for hardware.
- Conduct the technology audit: Prioritize the technology inventory list and complete an assessment of each component.
Stakeholder engagement is crucial. It helps obtain technology gap analysis funding and achieve future objectives. Leaders from all government departments must be involved from the beginning. Be prepared to provide progress updates and assign responsibilities.
Each stakeholder should buy into the project and be willing to involve end-users in the evaluation process. It’s unlikely that administrators use all systems and procedures daily. Therefore, they survey their staff and citizens to learn about challenges and desired changes.
Evaluate Current Systems and Processes
Each assessed technology connects to one or more workflows, and it’s important to map how it fits into various employee and citizen processes. Stakeholders and end-users should identify pain points with existing systems impeding their work or citizen access. Also, use this time to document skills required for current methods and note any issues related to skill gaps.
Key points to consider include:
- Interoperability and compatibility between systems
- Speed of use and reliability
- Mobility and accessibility rates
- Ease of use for end users
Identify Areas for Improvement and Potential Solutions
You can see technology gaps by looking at your technology audit, related systems and processes assessment, and goals. Local business owners may find accessing your organization’s shared database difficult, or residents abandon your online permit process after the fifth step. These cases are opportunities for improvement.
Summarize each technology gap and the risks of not closing it. Share solutions with stakeholders by outlining possible benefits, drawbacks, costs, and timeframes. Remember to discuss their role in the technology upgrades.
Solutions may involve:
- Updating or replacing current infrastructure, hardware, or software
- Embracing new or emerging technologies, like the Internet of Things (IoT)
- Partnering with Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
Benefits of Addressing Technology Gaps
An actionable strategy to manage technology gaps benefits your local or state agency. It allows your organization to understand top priorities and develop timelines suitable for all stakeholders. You can use your blueprint to outline capital budget projects, achieving gains over time by automating processes.
Other benefits include:
- Increase efficiency: Automation and IoT platforms streamline maintenance, oversight, and internal processes. These tools let public servants focus on critical tasks while technology automates repetitive duties.
- Improve public services: Deliver your promise to your constituents by enhancing current offerings, assisting them quicker, and making public information more accessible.
- Cost savings: Eliminate redundant technologies and expensive-to-maintain systems while leveraging new solutions to reduce utility and staffing expenses.
- Ensure security: Technology gaps often highlight potential security concerns, compounded by an overburdened IT team. Plugging this gap with 24/7 monitoring and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) support protects your agency.
Case Studies of Successful Assessments and Implementations
Organizations use technology gap studies to review internal and external services. The initial reports offer recommendations. Then most agencies establish committees to develop implementation plans and monitor progress. With regular gap reports, government leaders can manage change.
State of New Hampshire GIS Gap Analysis and Recommendations
The State of New Hampshire (1) completed a technology gap analysis of its geographic information system (GIS). This report looked at successes from the previous plan implementations. It highlighted the progress made since the last technology audit while exploring new issues.
The assessment identified several challenges, including lacking the “capability for full information sharing” between the NH National Guard’s system, National Guard Bureau (NGB), and surrounding states’ National Guards. The implementation table listed strategic goals, potential actions, benefits, implementation details, and the associated guiding principles.
Rhode Island HIT Gap Analysis
The Rhode Island (2) Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) received a Health Information Technology (HIT) roadmap and implementation plan. It found several problems with the current system and recommended that Rhode Island expand the usability of the existing platform while improving data access and success measurement metrics.
Experts from state departments, community agencies, and healthcare organizations meet monthly (3) to discuss health information technology proposals. The monthly presentations consider the assessment and recommendations while aiming to meet the state’s healthcare transformation objectives.
Tips for Engaging with Technology Vendors and Partners
Budget constraints and time pressures deter state and local authorities from pursuing solutions. With the right partner, you can find ways to solve problems affecting citizens and agency workflows. Also, your technology vendors help overcome implementation barriers, like cost concerns.
Here’s what to look for in technology vendors and partners:
- Familiarity with government agencies and demands
- Understands the importance of compatibility with legacy services
- Has partnerships with national associations
- Provides custom solutions for the public sector
- Offers a substantial partner network
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